Today the Washington Business Journal reported that Vornado has done a deal for T.J. Maxx to be the "anchor" store for Georgetown Park Mall. Earlier, Topher Mathews had reported this might happen, but who wanted to believe it? We'd heard they went after Target, and thought maybe it was a joke, but no; their concept for Georgetown apparently is downmarket. We, as a neighborhood, may just have to roll along with it.
Anyone who has lived here for 20-30 years has watched the mall go through many changes. It opened up with bright possibility. There was a good department store plus a lot of smaller shops that were useful and benefited the neighborhood. But then serial bad management entered the picture and, over time, the stores became less and less relevant -- to Georgetowners as well as suburban shoppers, foot traffic and tourists.
T.J. Maxx may be a fine enterprise. I don't know. One friend said their business is designer clothing. Are we talking designers as in Prada and Carolina Herrera on Madison Avenue or H&M knock-offs? The important question is: Is it a good fit for Georgetown? Will it do the kind of business here that will keep it operating, or will it be just another place holder that opens, struggles, fizzles and closes? Through all the vissictudes of the past decade commercially, what has endured are small stores, not monster stores; Georgetown serves boutiques, not big box; the message is unique, small, special, innovative, sole proprietor. Most of those big M Street stores won't be here a decade hence. They have no staying power.
I'm told Vornado is struggling to find tenants. I hear this from people who are connected but don't want to go on the record. So far, Vornado won't speak to reporters. At least not to WBJ, Topher or me. When this happens it usually means there are no answers to the questions, or turmoil on the inside. I've heard both. Simply put, where's the transparency when it comes to issues related to this mall? Hopefully CAG and the ANC, and other village leaders, will push for some answers.
It's a cycle. This will pass. Vornado will come and it will go, but like all the other non-Georgetown developers, when it goes it will take a piece of Georgetown's heart.